MORRISSEY: Bears’ poor play is turning out to be the anomaly
BY RICK MORRISSEY email@example.com
Panther's #24 Josh Norman picks off a Jay Cutler pass intended for Bear Brandon Marshall in the first quarter. Carolina Panthers vs. the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, Sunday, October 28, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media
To find the Bears on Sunday, you had to go from bad to worse and then take a hard left at wretched. From there, you passed abominable and atrocious before finally reaching putrid.
That’s where you boarded a plane for the long flight to where the Bears were.
And they won. I still can’t believe it as I write this, but they won. They won a game they had no business winning, a game that they had no business charging people a fee to attend.
They won a game that saw them with minus-10 passing yards until the last two plays of the third quarter.
They arrived extremely late due to a combination of missed wakeup calls, low biorhythms and let’s throw Frankenstorm in there, too, yet still beat Carolina 23-22 on Robbie Gould’s 41-yard field goal as time expired.
They won because of Jay Cutler, despite the fact they were losing because of him and the offensive line for more than three quarters. They won because they roared back from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit.
They won because the defense did that thing it does, separating opponents from footballs likes pits from olives.
“Some kind of way we got it together there late,’’ coach Lovie Smith said.
Did the Bears deserve to win? Probably not, but the standings don’t know that. They just know that the team from Chicago is 6-1 and has a 1 1/2-game lead in the NFC North. Anything else is a scurrilous rumor.
But anybody who saw this game knows better. The way the Bears were playing, it looked as if they would have rather been getting worked over by brass knuckles. They said afterward that they had the Panthers right where they wanted them – at Soldier Field.
“A lot of things were in our favor,’’ Smith said.
If there were, you needed night-vision goggles to see them. It was all darkness from where I was sitting.
“It’s hard to get momentum after being down so long,’’ tight end Kellen Davis said.
The Bears didn’t coax the momentum over to their side so much as they abducted it. Even now, long after the game, what happened is hard to believe. The Bears scored two touchdowns in eight seconds to help replace desolation with elation. First Cutler hit Davis with a 12-yard touchdown pass to make it 19-14, then cornerback Tim Jennings grabbed a Cam Newton pass meant for Steve Smith, who had slipped on the play, and ran back the interception 25 yards for a touchdown.
In the blink of an eye and the time it takes for a cleated shoe to give on the Soldier Field turf, the Bears led 20-19 with six minutes, 44 seconds left in the game.
Again, don’t ask me.
All I know is that when the Bears needed Cutler, he completed six of seven passes for 52 yards to get Gould in position for the game-winning kick.
And the Panthers, guarding against a touchdown pass, were kind enough to give Bears receivers some cushion. By “some cushion’’ I mean “a city block.’’ Cutler found Brandon Marshall on slant route after slant route over the middle. It was too easy.
I’m sure all sorts of magic will be ascribed to this victory, with the requisite nods to the football gods, but there can’t be anything magical about a game that was played as poorly as this one was. At halftime, Carolina had 226 yards of total offense, the Bears 49. At that point, Cutler had been sacked six times, lost two fumbles and thrown an interception.
The Bears were so bad they were met with boos as they went to the locker room at halftime. Believe me, by that time, the gods had gone home to get ready for Game 4 of the World Series.
And then came Jennings, the latest to join the party of defensive touchdown-scorers. The defense now has six TDs in seven games.
“I felt left out,’’ Jennings said.
The Bears pride themselves on practicing turnovers during the week – punching footballs loose and fighting off receivers for passes. But don’t other teams do that?
“You wouldn’t think so because they’re not (amassing turnovers) like we’re doing it,’’ linebacker Brian Urlacher said.
Seven games into the season, the interceptions and fumble recoveries aren’t flukes. If anything’s a fluke, it’s probably the Bears’ poor performance Sunday. We’ll find out soon enough. The difficult games against good teams are about to start piling up.
And being god-awful for three quarters isn’t going to cut it.